Canadian Study Finds Several Keys For Successful Aging

Aging is a part of life; however, breakthrough research in a Canadian study shows the negatives that come with aging could be stalled if a healthy lifestyle is adopted.

Key takeaways:
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    Canadian study finds the healthy immigrant effect to be a myth as Canadian-born citizens slightly outscore their peers in successful aging.
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    With most of the baby boomer generation nearly over the age of 65, the globe deals with caring for an aging population.
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    Aging may have no cure, but certain lifestyle measures can be taken to slow the process.

Successful aging has become a familiar subject that seeks to help older adults get the most out of their later years. A study from Canada analyzed data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) to evaluate the rate of successful aging.

The researchers compared Canadian-born adults with immigrants to Canada, finding that Canadian-born has a slightly higher successful aging rate than their counterparts.

Canada is a country with a high immigrant population of 21%. Past studies have found certain immigrants fare better than domestic-born citizens, known as the healthy immigrant effect, but it's not necessarily always the case. The study included 7,651 respondents, with 1,446 immigrants and the remaining being natural-born Canadians.

Organizers of the study sought to prove that successful aging is more than just the physiological aspects of aging but the surroundings that impact aging adults. For example, an adult is diagnosed with a chronic illness but is still active and energetic and can carry out their day without missing a step. This specific adult may very well feel that they are successfully aging, even though they have an illness that might hinder some aspects.

Researchers involved four measures to decipher successful aging in the participants. The first baseline, physical wellness, observed daily activities including the ability to dress/undress, eat with no help, walk without assistance, and do housework with little help, to name a few. Phycological and emotional wellness was evaluated for signs of depression and anxiety, while social wellness graded participants’ relationships and social comfort levels. Self-rated wellness was the final measure that allowed participants to determine their level of successful aging.

Other co-variables included demographics, education level, lifestyle, physical diseases, and financial well-being.

The study concluded immigrants do not have a higher chance of attaining successful aging versus Canadian-born citizens. Researchers found multiple factors associated with the increased likelihood of successful aging in immigrants, including younger age, female sex, higher-income bracket, married, absent obesity, never smoked, and few sleeping problems.

Individuals competing in strenuous sports had higher odds of achieving successful aging. No association of successful aging was noticed with avid walking, light sports, moderate sports, light exercise, and sleeping problems.

Rising aging population

The entire globe is currently in a shift toward an aging population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the world’s population will double from 12% to 22% between 2015 and 2050. Like the rest of the planet, the United States is also dealing with an aging population. The United States Census Bureau projects that by 2030, the baby boomer generation will account for 21% of the population.

With the elderly population growth across the globe, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly asked the WHO to lead the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing from 2021 to 2030. With a wide variety of needs for aging patients, The UN Decade of Healthy Ageing aims to increase health opportunities for the elderly, deliver patient-centered care, and provide access to sufficient long-term care.

Some diseases associated with aging:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Dementia

Combating old age

As found in the study, successful aging can be attained through certain lifestyle habits. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides six tips to help you remain independent and active through old age.

  1. Make sure to have the correct amount of fruits and vegetables daily while reducing processed meats and sugar intake. Choose whole-grain bread and low-fat dairy options versus their counterpart.
  2. It is easy to get caught up on the couch, but make sure to be active for at least 30 minutes every day. Physical activity will help reduce the likelihood of fatigue, manage chronic diseases, and improve brain function.
  3. Smoking may be a life-long habit, but it is best to step away to combat aging. Those seeking help can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
  4. Don’t be afraid to visit the doctor. It is easy to visit when ill, but scheduling appointments for preventative measures will help increase the likelihood of successful aging if the disease is caught early.
  5. Enlighten health professionals about any hereditary illnesses to reduce their impact.
  6. Memory struggles like dementia are not a part of aging and must require medical attention immediately.
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